Welcome to the Adventure
Living in Mexico is often indescribable...you just have to live here. I have been journaling experiences for a while, and I hope you can get a feel for stupid-ass gringos trying to get it. But I am still here, and that says a lot for those of us sticking it out, as the payback is what makes life so good here.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The boys from Dover (a quote for those of a certain age ought to remember)
My nephew Will and his friend Daniel took off this morning for home, where-ever that might be after graduating from college two weeks ago. It is refreshing to hang out with 22+ year-olds for a few days. Gives you a completely different perspective on the world. They wanted their own blog, dedicated to them, and so it goes. They deserve a blog.
One of the first things they noticed was the heat....humm, really the humidity (we did warn them). But they were good sports about it. After all, they have lived in Oregon for the last four+ years, and have no idea about heat, anyway. They did fall asleep in the pool while I was fixing dinner the second night they were here, and they unfortunately got a little sunburned. Will is the sensitive one, all that white skin, blond hair. It was my fault. It was quiet, I was cooking, who pays attention to time when it's good. Reminded me of when Will was a little guy, and we promised my sister we would keep him away from the poison oak, and sure as shit, the poison oak found him every time he stayed with us. We aloed them to death, but they did suffer. My friend Lupe offered to take the shirt off Will, which left us laughing, for those of you who know our friend Lupe, well you can imagine.
Going up to Oaxaca city last Monday, I reminded the guys to bring their cameras. This was when Will let it be known he didn't bring one. Didn't need it. Daniel had a camera, that was enough. Really. Turns out we all need a Daniel in our lives, and thank God he had the camera. We went up mezcal road, the easy route. Stopped in El Cameron for lunch and a World Cup fix at a great restaurant owned by Eugene, a mechanic who worked in the states for a while, and now runs the restaurant, with the auto repair shop out back. He covers all the bases. Going into Oaxaca, we stopped at a boutique mezcal place, Perla Blanca. One mezcal they make uses tobala cactus, that purports to be the smoothest. It was good, and smooth. All of you that know Daniel need to ask for a shot. He bought a bottle going into and out of Oaxaca by the way, as the one he first bought broke in his backpack, and well, the smell of mezcal permeated our lives for a day or so.
Both Will and Daniel were anxious to visit Mt. Alban. Daniel was an anthropology major, and had studied this area of Mexico, and Mt. Alban. Will was a history major, and he was very interested in seeing what he studied as well. This Zapotecan archeological site is remarkable for what has been preserved. They are still digging it out, and it is fascinating. Rene, our host, arranged for a guide up there, and they had a terrific tour.
I would say it was a big hit, and Daniel took lots of pictures (Will!) The next day, we dragged them off to the market in Etla. Will kept saying he felt like a big white giant compared to the others in the market place. Oaxacan people are short. I am taller than the average Oaxacan, man or woman. He did kind of stick out. He was getting the looks from the girls, I tell ya... and Daniel as well. The guys tried to deny it, but it was everywhere we went, we noticed. Being tall is a desirable attribute here, and young guys get a lot of looks, just because they are tall.
Dinner at Los Danzantes, Oaxaca
The adobe wall behind them is beautiful, unusual!
Will was a big hit with our cook, Paula, at the Casa de los Milagros. She set the table every night before she left, and always folded that napkins a different way. Will got into the napkin folding big time. Every time he sat down to breakfast, he would figure out the fold and repeat it. Except for the last breakfast. Paula pulled out the toughest one yet, a napkin with four squares of different colors, folded into four peaks. I came in early, and she gave me the look to check out the napkins. I laughed and said no way would he figure this one out. Will came down to eat, looked at the napkin, and Paula, and made a superhuman effort to duplicate her perfection. She laughingly had to show him how to do it, and I think after the demonstration it was Daniel that had the edge on the fold over Will. Paula loved it!!!
Squash blossoms and eggs Typical breakfast at La Casa
While Will and I hung out at the Casa our final night, Daniel and Larry took a walk down to the zocalo. The teachers are on strike and occupying the zocalo once again. The elections are July 4 here, and the teachers here are no friend to Ulysses Ruiz our current governor. They are protesting him for the last time I think, but have effectively shut down the zocalo. The teachers are living in the zocalo, with their families. They have requested observers to come from the federal government to observe the elections. As the zocalo is the major tourist center in Oaxaca, the tourists and vendors just moved up to Santo Domingo plaza and continued the party. It was good for Daniel to see the political side of Mexico, and he found the experience eye-opening. For those of us who grew up in Berkeley or San Francisco in the 60's, it felt very familiar.
Home again finally, the staff at La Finca (a BBQ place at Playa Bocana) did ply them with mezcal.. It was a party there, as it always is, but the free, all you can drink mezcal, at the end of the meal, guarantees the good time, and sometimes a bad hangover. Daniel paid for it the next day, but we were all dragging, slightly. But they jumped into the pool when we returned to the house, and all was well and then some that evening as they had just one more shot of Jack before retiring.
I think the biggest hit was our English class. They went to almost all of them with us, and jumped right in and took their turn at teaching English. Our students loved them. There was a lot of laughing during class. Daniel checked papers, clarified words for them; Will talked to everyone, and corrected pronunciations and learned a few Spanish words himself, I think. They had chocolate cake Friday, to practice the eating verbs and vocabulary. Big Hit!
Will and Daniel are good friends, and we were fortunate to have time with them together. Both are getting on with their lives, Daniel to Kansas to continue studies in grad school, and Will to his beloved football team, and job possibilities in Oregon. We feel very fortunate they took time out of their lives, to hang with us for the few days. Aunts and Uncles have enviable positions in families in that we get to have young nephews and nieces visit us without the "parent hassle" factor. We probe, but not too deep. We listen. Little advice is offered, but we've got stories that illustrate all the things they are experiencing, and remind them that it's the journey. We don't care when they get there, just enjoy the journey. And so for a few short days, we got to walk along with Will and Daniel on their just begun journey. We will miss those guys, and look forward to watching the paths they take.
Across from Casa de Los Milagros; Will and Larry near Santo Domingo; Ball court - Mt. Alban
Daniel at Mt. Alban; Mt. Alban